One injury. That's all it took for Jamaal Jackson to go from practice squad player to starting center.
Jackson made his first NFL start back on Nov. 14, 2005, a week after Hank Fraley sustained a rotator cuff injury. Jackson never relinquished his hold on the job. That is, until the second to last game of the regular season when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a game against Denver.
"Of course, it was disappointing," Jackson said. "When it happened, I didn't really know. A couple of plays later, I kind of felt it."
Jackson said the timing could not have been worse, especially for an offensive line that seemed to be finding its groover after being in flux so much earlier in the season.
We kind of had something going on the offensive line as far as chemistry goes. I'm just still kind of upset about not being there for those last couple games vs. Dallas. Hopefully I can get this thing right and we won't have that problem again."
Nearly three months removed from ACL surgery, Jackson has made the NovaCare Complex his home as he works his way back. That includes work on strengthening the legs as well as upper body work.
"I'm moving in the right direction so everything's going good right now," he said. "I need to do my part to get as healthy as I can."
In terms of resuming football activities, things are a lot less certain. At the owners meetings last week, head coach Andy Reid said he doesn't expect to have Jackson for training camp, and perhaps even the preseason.
Nick Cole and Mike McGlynn appear to be the frontrunners at the position entering the spring.
For his part, Jackson is focused solely on one thing: "My goal is just to come back and get healthy."
Jackson has been injured before. He tore a triceps muscle in the 2004 preseason.
"I'm pretty much familiar with the 'one play away' statement," Jackson said. "When you're out there, you have to be as hungry as you can and just be humble. I'm trying to get back and do whatever I can to help this team."
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 6:00 p.m., April 1